Aerial view of the Cache Creek landfill

Aerial view of the Cache Creek landfill

Legal cloud remains over Cache Creek landfill expansion

Court fight may affect whether Metro burns or buries garbage.

B.C.’s high court has ruled an Interior aboriginal group may not have been properly consulted in the environmental assessment of a proposed major expansion of the Cache Creek landfill.

The B.C. Court of Appeal did not immediately quash the environmental certificate issued last year, but ruled B.C.’s environmental approval process was defective and left the door open for the Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council (NNTC) to file a new legal challenge to overturn the approval.

At stake is whether or not the Cache Creek landfill will be permitted to take garbage from Metro Vancouver for another two decades or more.

The 40-hectare expansion is proposed by the Village of Cache Creek and landfill operator Belkorp Environmental Services, even though Metro’s board has vowed since 2008 to stop dumping in the Interior and deal with the region’s waste closer to home.

Metro wants to pursue waste-to-energy options, which could see it build a new incinerator to burn garbage that can’t be recycled.

Some opponents who fear worsening air quality in the Fraser Valley hope Victoria rejects the idea – the province must still make a decision on Metro’s draft solid waste plan – and direct the region to keep trucking waste to Cache Creek.

The appeal court ruled the Environmental Assessment Office should have formally consulted the NNTC, which has opposed the dump expansion on grounds it may leach toxins and contaminate groundwater and local wildlife.

“Denying the NNTC a role within the assessment process is denying it access to an important part of the high-level planning process,” the court found.

Successive court rulings have found governments have a duty to consult First Nations whose aboriginal rights may be infringed when a major project is proposed on land they claim.

The province’s environmental review did consult numerous local bands, some belonging to the broader Nlaka’pamux First Nation and others to the Secwepemc First Nation, neither of which has a governing body speaking for the whole group.

Some of the bands back the expansion and the jobs the landfill provides, while others, particularly the ones allied with the NNTC, oppose it.

Both the Nlaka’pamux and Secwepemc claim the land the landfill extension sits on.

The competing claims and animosity between aboriginal groups made it a “daunting” job to craft a meaningful yet efficient consultation process, the court found.

“Difficult as it might have been to fulfill,” the judgment said, “the Crown’s duty to act honourably towards First Nations makes consultation a constitutional imperative.”

Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta said the next step depends on whether the NNTC now moves to overturn the environmental certificate.

“If they’re successful, that may put the project in some jeopardy,” he said.

A previously approved short-term expansion of the landfill allows Metro to continue using Cache Creek until about the end of 2015.

Metro waste management committee chair Greg Moore said the ruling does not appear to affect the region’s direction, as Metro intends to have new waste-handling facilities in place within the next few years.

“We don’t plan on using Cache Creek past our current contract date,” he said.

Just Posted

The Great Gordini puts on a magic show for an avid audience during the first Storytime in the Park in this 2019 photo. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
Storytime in the Park returns this summer

Day 1 registration is on June 30

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Most Read